Demand for private jets has surged since the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus as companies and individual seek alternative ways to fly out of Hong Kong. The number of business jet flights between Hong Kong to Australia and North America leapt 214 per cent in January compared with a year ago, according to data from WingX, a business aviation monitoring company. Flights from Hong Kong to global locations jumped 34.2 per cent in January compared with a year ago. The rise comes as fears grow over coronavirus spreading more widely to Asia-Pacific markets. Airlines have slashed the number of flights to and from China. At the same time, commercial passenger planes in China have been grounded. “We’ve seen a crazy amount of requests,” said Alain Leboursier, sales director at Luna Jets, a private jet broker. Some of the requests have come from companies and governments wanting to move their staff from Hong Kong and China to the US, EU and Middle East. Jeffrey Lowe, managing director of Asian Sky, an Asia-Pacific business aviation company, added demand has also been spurred because of fears that strict travel restrictions in countries such as Hong Kong could be introduced. “Everyone quickly refers back to Sars. A lot of people are taking a knee-jerk reaction and moving themselves out of harms way,” he said. The rise in demand for private jets comes as the International Air Transport Association on Thursday estimated the deadly coronavirus outbreak will cost global carriers almost $30bn in lost revenues in 2020. Recommended AnalysisLuxury goods Coronavirus wreaks havoc on luxury and fashion groups Asia-Pacific airlines will be hit by the vast majority of the $29.3bn revenue fall. Iata forecasts a 13 per cent decline in passenger demand for the region’s airlines over the full year — the first fall in demand since the financial crisis more than a decade ago. While Hong Kong has not experienced mass groundings of planes similar to China, it has suffered a cut of about 55 per cent of flights over the past month, according to data from OAG, the aviation consultancy. Some business jet experts think the concerns over coronavirus is also leading some wealthy individuals to avoid flying on commercial planes in an attempt to avoid crowds. Adam Twidell, chief executive of PrivateFly, a UK-based private jet brokerage, said there were a significant number of requests from people wanting to fly on business jets in recent days. “One is for transport of a decontamination team within Asia, another is a Hong Kong-based family, travelling to Bali. They normally fly by commercial airline but on this occasion, are concerned about exposure on the flight,” he said. However, Mr Twidell said private jet companies were also experiencing clients changing or cancelling their travel plans. Data from WingX show hardly any growth in the number of private jet flights from China. Aviation experts said this is largely because there is only a small number of private jet operators willing to fly to and from China because of the quarantine requirements and travel bans.
-Private Jet Charter Malaysia –